Greene King Business Plan

There’s been a real change in the purpose of the pub.” Traveling back 30 years to the 1980s, 70% of beer volumes were sold in pubs.This has undergone a “seismic shift”, says Davis, with only 50% of beer volumes now being sold by the pub industry following a significant consumer switch to supermarkets.The acquisition has generated challenges, the most difficult being combining the two companies and creating one set of values and one vision.

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Kirk Davis joined Greene King as CFO in 2015 following key finance roles at JD Wetherspoon and Tesco.

Tasked with unlocking the financial potential of the £774m acquisition of Spirit Pub Company in 2015, over the past two years he has been focused on building the best pub company in the UK. As well as working to align two separate cultures and teams following the acquisition, Davis has had to battle against government policies impacting the UK’s pub industry, and the wider implications of Brexit – namely consumer confidence.

“At the end of the day, while we’re a low-ticket item, it is a discretionary spend,” he says.

“There’s other areas in the market that people naturally cut back on first – holidays, cars, home improvements – but, at some point, if you’re feeling the pinch, you’ll visit less frequently, or you’ll spend less.

’ And some of it has been blending that communication piece together,” Davis says.

When it comes to talent retention, training and development have played a significant role, says Davis.

The move “probably caused just a little bit more angst around people because some roles moved from Bury to Burton and some in the opposite direction,” he admits.

“But, strategically, it’s the right decision to have made,” he concludes.

There was quite a lot of synergy with the spirit business in terms of where their assets were located, so we could get a real national reach across the UK.

“Secondly, when you look at the brand portfolio, there were some brands that Spirit had that were very attractive – Chef and Brewer, Flaming Grill, Taylor Walker pubs in London. So, if you put two medium-sized companies together, you’ve got the benefits of scale and that underpinned the acquisition so the shareholder could see where we were going to create value for them while developing stronger, bigger brands across the UK and getting a better reach to our customers.” Coordinating his arrival to Greene King with the acquisition announcement, Davis says the mantra for the past two years has been “building the best and taking the best from both companies”. “It’s continuing to harvest the benefits,” he confirms.

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